Sanjay Nair praises Liverpool for their ‘ugly’ win against Burnley on Sunday given the Reds’ tendency to drop points against teams in the lower realms of the Premier League, earning them the tag of being like Robin Hood.
The current season marked the beginning of a new pattern for Liverpool Football Club, wherein a win or draw against a team from title-chasing teams was followed by dropped points against teams from the bottom half of the table.
Liverpool’s travails against the likes of Swansea, Hull and managerless Leicester City turned emotions from oddly amusing to regularly bemusing with the start of 2017. So much so that Liverpool were continuously spoken of as the Robin Hood of the Premier League.
Given this alarming sequence of events, even the win against fellow contenders for Champions League position Arsenal was taken with a pinch of salt knowing we had Burnley visiting the week after. In the end, there were two major positives to come out of these games.
Emre Can’s resurgence
Not many Liverpool fans would have been surprised if Burnley went onto create history for themselves once they got the lead at Anfield as early as the 8th minute. However, in a welcome reversal of fortunes and pattern, Liverpool not only found a way back to equalise but also got a winner from the most unlikeliest of sources based on recent form – Emre Can.
Though he always seems to have the manager’s backing, that belief in Can has not always translated on to the pitch. With the continued absence of Henderson, however, much was expected of Can and the games against Arsenal and Burnley witnessed some much improved and long overdue performances from the young German.
Can seemed to revel in a more aggressive role and showed an intense desire to dominate the midfield area. Contract issues aside, the match-winning goal against Burnley can only add to his confidence and he must capitalise on this form to make his presence felt more often in games of this nature.
Liverpool can ‘win ugly’ when needed to
While the Arsenal match was not a huge surprise given how Arsenal are set up, ironically it is the manner of victory against Burnley that must be seen as a major improvement.
Our inability to break down similar teams has been the major talking point of the season and it was heartening to see Liverpool reverse the role. Not only did they persist and play with a more direct approach until taking the lead, Liverpool were also ready to sit back and defend deep towards the end of the match relying on counter-attacks to push the opposition back.
This was pretty much what everyone else has talked about as a winning formula against us all season. Liverpool’s willingness to accept the fact that it is not always necessary to play beautiful football to win more often will be key to a go0d run-in to the end of the season. With another 10 games to go, Liverpool must tread carefully from here on and a hard fought win such as this must be used as a launchpad for the remainder of the season and a direct entry into the Champions League.
For the time being, though, it does look as though Liverpool have shed the ‘Robin Hood’ tag. For the fans’ sake, let us hope it is not coming back at all. Man City away and Everton at home in consecutive games should offer considerable distraction from such worries.